Like most of the UK and in fact the world I have found the pandemic lockdown a challenge in many ways, freedom of choice reduced, reduction of income, home-schooling mayhem, lack of loo rolls, we’ve all been there right!
12 months on (4 months of that shielding) has made the ‘change’ feel more like the normal and that isn’t surprising when you look at how long it takes humans to form new habits. Philippa Lally is a health psychology researcher at University College London and her study suggested it takes between 18 to 254 days for people to form a habit. For most on average, it takes just 66 days for a new behaviour to become automatic.
It goes without saying, lifting lockdown is great news, businesses reopening, livelihoods can start to flourish again and families can embrace each other once more. However, I feel there is a BUT.
If like me, new habits have formed, new norms have been established what will easing of lockdown feel like, what new pressures or concerns may arise?
When we entered into the lockdowns there were and continues to be lots of discussion and awareness around mental wellbeing, understanding of the increased sense of loneliness and an appreciation of how hard the imposed restrictions would have on people. Many of these same people and others will face the reverse concerns as we exit lockdown a year on.
Why am I writing this blog, well… my biggest stress resulting from Boris’s announcement is schools reopening on 8th March. Education is so important, but (I told you there were some BUTS) having the most precious person in your life at home 24/7, selfishly, has been a real positive for me and a once in a lifetime moment. New habits have been formed, like having lunch together, sharing daytime laughter, wearing onesies in daytime on a Wednesday plus seeing inside the classroom (virtually) has added so much to our relationship. My son (just 11 years old) and I have become amazing co-workers supporting and learning from each other each and everyday. It is going to be so hard for me to wave bye-bye at 8.40am on Tuesday 9th March.
What about the physical changes some of us may be facing…
Wearing ‘work clothes’ - lockdown load’ is a real thing for many, extra weight = ill-fitting clothes
Returning to school and work places before the opening of hairdressers = a ‘bad hair days’
Driving – I haven’t driven more than 5 miles for 8 months, is it like riding a bike, does it just come back to you?
New routines, new expectations = new lists and alarms!
These small things may not seem much, but the pressure we put on ourselves or the feeling society expects more perfection than we can provide can cause significant anxiety and stress, even for the most clam and rooted individual.
Speaking to Denise Searle a hypnotic lifecoach at Lifefix, who works with clients looking at the conscious and hidden unconscious mind, recommends that employers and individuals listen to one another and take note of what they are hearing & feeling.
To support and address these symptoms & behaviours proactive holistic actions can be put into place to manage and overcome anxiety or stress. Small steps such as acknowledging that it is normal to feel anxious in this new post lockdown world and naming how you are feeling, sharing it with family, friends or your employer are a great foundation to controlling the lockdown associated mental wellbeing concerns. It is also important to acknowledge that if your anxiety is affecting your everyday life to the level that you can’t do normal things then you should seek professional help.
As an employer creating a transparent Covid-19 focused risk assessment which is communicated to all and reiterating support you provide ranging from coaching, 121 manager conversation or access to a confidential Employee Assistance helpline will help employees take control and plan for their return to the new business norm.
If you have an employee who is struggling in this area or feel you would benefit from some support in creating a proactive and supportive return to work environment please do not hesitate to get in contact with me, I offer a complimentary 20 minute video session where we can confidentially talk about your employee concerns and challenges.
A quick reminder of the key Lockdown Exit timeline as of 1st March:
· 8 March – Schools in England reopen remember: Secondary school children will be required to wear masks in the classroom as well as in corridors plus. twice-weekly testing for pupils in secondary school and at college. Households with school children will be encouraged to also be tested
· 29 March, outdoor gatherings of six people or two households will be allowed, including meetings in private gardens
· 12 April – indoor leisure, outdoor attractions, hairdressers, outdoor hospitality, local holidays will re-open. Libraries and museums will also be allowed to re-open, as well as hospitality venues, zoos and theme parks. Only people from the same household can meet indoors, outdoors the rule of six or two households continues to apply. Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to re-open for outdoor purposes only; diners can be served at tables outside and in beer gardens.
· 21 June – all legal limits on social contact will be removed
If you would like to know more, or feel we can help please do get in touch
Claire Clifford, CC in HR Ltd
Denise Searle, Hypnotic Coach and Clinical Hypnotherapist firstname.lastname@example.org